Plant lectins

Leveraging the defence mechanisms of plants using cutting-edge recombinant DNA technology to treat human disease

Lectins are proteins found in plants, animals and microorganisms, which can recognise and selectively bind with a remarkably diverse range of carbohydrates on cell surfaces.

In the plant world, lectins play an important role in a number of biological processes. They inhibit the functioning of invading microbial cells, defend against parasites and insect predators, and they promote the healing of accidental wounds and the cellular growth of the plants themselves.¹

Plant lectins are considered to have a wide range of applications for the diagnosis, symptom management and treatment of diseases in humans, particularly due to their demonstrated antimicrobial, antitumor and healing activities.²


SDX-13 is the recombinant form of phytohemagglutinin-L (PHA-L), a lectin indigenous to the red kidney bean. The compound has positive Phase IIa results in mucosal epithelial healing and a favourable safety profile, demonstrated in three Phase I studies involving healthy volunteers.³

Considering the time that has elapsed since the completion of these studies by the previous developer of SDX-13 and the changes in the market environment, SynDermix is currently evaluating the most attractive clinical indications that may be targeted with the compound. The Company is not aware of any other company developing recombinant PHA-L compounds for therapeutic use.

Development strategy

SynDermix has entered into a collaboration with a global contract research organisation (CRO), for the preparation and management of the non-clinical programme that will determine the most attractive development strategy for SDX-13. It is anticipated that these studies will end in 2021.

Depending on the outcomes of the non-clinical programme, SynDermix intends to take forward the development of SDX-13 (with or without a partnership) until the achievement of a clinical value inflection point, or to out-license or divest the asset in the event that the non-clinical studies generate highly compelling results.

¹ Lannoo N and Van Damme E. Lectin domains at the frontiers of plant defense. Frontiers in Plant Science 5, 397 (2014).
² Pusztai A., Bardocz S., Ewen S.W.B. Uses of plant lectins in bioscience and biomedicine. Frontiers in Plant Science 13, 1130-1140 (2008)
³ Hunter A., Mahendra, P., Wilson, K., Fields, P., Cook G., Peniket A., Crawley, C., Hickling, R. and Marcus, R. Treatment of oral mucositis after peripheral blood SCT with ATL-104 mouthwash: Results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Bone Marrow Transplantation 43, 567 (2008).